The union’s health ministry on Tuesday announced the Center’s plans for cold storage chains as it prepares large-scale vaccination against coronary heart disease (Covid-19) across the country. It includes 29,000 cold chain points, 240 incoming refrigerators, 70 incoming freezers, 45,000 ice-covered refrigerators, 41,000 deep refrigerators and 300 solar refrigerators that will be available for vaccine storage, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday.
Bhushan said, during a press report, guidelines for evaluating electrical and non-electric cold chain equipment and their reinforcement were given to states of the Center. The guidelines for cold chain management at the end of cold chain points and meeting places have also been published, he said. “All of this equipment has already been delivered to the states. Some other equipment is being supplied,” he said.
Training modules for people dealing with vaccinations such as physicians, vaccinators, alternative vaccinators, cold chain managers, supervisors, data managers, and ASHA coordinators have begun physically and through digital platforms. Moreover, the workshops on National and State Training of Coaches (ToT) have also been completed, he added.
Bhushan also spoke about adverse effects of the vaccine, especially in pregnant women and children. “Bad events after immunization are a critical issue. When we undertake a universal immunization program, done for decades, then some harm is seen in children and pregnant women after vaccination,” he said.
The Health Secretary advised the states and territories of the Union to be prepared to deal with such situations, as these effects had already occurred in the UK on the first day of their vaccination. He also said that 23 ministries and departments in the Center and states have been identified and assigned roles such as planning, implementation, social mobilization, awareness, among others, for the development of vaccine.
The announcement comes a few days after the Center said the vaccination drive is only a few months away. Union health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey said initially only 100 people a day would get the shot, but eventually everyone would be vaccinated. “We will begin the process of sending necessary equipment for storage and handling of coronavirus vaccine to states. Currently only 100 people will receive the vaccine at a booth per day. Eventually everyone will receive the vaccine,” he said.
The vaccine carriers, vaccine vials and ice creams must be strictly kept away from direct sunlight according to the “Covid-19 Vaccine Operational Guidelines”. “There may not be vaccine road monitors (VVM) and Expiration Date on the Covid-19 vaccine label, this should not discourage vaccinators from using the vaccine. At the end of the session, the vaccine carrier with all ice creams and unopened vaccine vials should to be returned to the distributing cold chain point, ”the guidelines said.
Officials said 36 states and union territories had already concluded meetings of state leadership committees and state task force and 633 districts had ended those of district task force.
According to the guidelines issued to states recently, the Covid-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network (Co-WIN) system – a digitized platform – will be used to track recruited beneficiaries for the vaccination and anti-coronavirus vaccines in real time.
The vaccine will first be offered to all doctors and first responders, and to people over 50 years of age. For the elderly there may be subsections such as people between 50 and 60 years old and those over 60, with the priority given to all the more vulnerable depending on the availability of the vaccine. The vaccination of 300 million people was planned in the first stage of the drive.
India currently has 9,906,165 confirmed coronavirus infections and 143,709 deaths.
(With agency inputs)